The revitalization of Downtown Delray Beach, Florida, began more than a decade ago and this village by the beach has shown a continued growth in the area. That reputation has been enough to lure some top chefs to the downtown, which is getting a reputation for its fine dining. The town strives on being known for its creativity and that extends to the eateries.
Two of the restaurants that have led that movement are right at the start of the downtown – Tryst and 32 East.
Tryst and 32 East are right next door to each other and they have the same owner, but they have different chefs, different decors and different food. What they do have in common is the philosophy of both chefs to provide fresh food that is as local as possible. The two share camaraderie with a bit of competition, though there’s no need to since both restaurants have a unique appeal.
When you head downtown you will hit Tryst first. Enjoy the artsy décor, where the chairs and tables are as interesting as the paintings on the wall. Executive Chef Julien Greaves likes to mix up flavors, like the glazed spare ribs that combine a spicy sauce with a crunchy cabbage, completing the sweet and sour. He makes his own bacon, sausage and duck prosciutto, and the meat he does buy he is very particular about. Take his Balsamic Australian Lamb, for example. He starts with the tenderest of meat and then puts it on a bed of potato puree with a cherry and arugula salad. The plate is then covered in a balsamic and red wine reduction.
Chef Julien Greaves is not new to the area and has made some ties that count, “I’ve worked in the Delray area for over 20 years,” he says. “I’ve developed relationships with farmers and fishermen. I have a small freezer and few cans in the back. I order food six days a week.” It all seems to work in an atmosphere that combines local pub and European bistro.
As you walk two doors down on Atlantic Avenue to 32 East, you will hear a similar attitude from Executive Chef Nick Morfogen, for whom Greaves has worked. This restaurant is much more classic and quieter, with even the lighting dimmed. The wine list is tremendous and you can find 25-30 (depending on the season) offerings by the glass. The menu ranges from pizza to prime steak, but the atmosphere is definitely more suited to the latter. Chef Morfogen is proud of the level of his food, especially the fish, which he says is the “best offering
on the avenue.” He has his own fisherman catching just for him each day.
When asked to compare his restaurant with the one next door, Nick Morfogen, compliments his neighbor, but acknowledges that “this is much less of a gastro pub with a different level of prep.” While you may come to 32 East for the perfectly prepared fresh fish and the tender fillet mignon, sandwiched between homemade bacon and Portobello, you can even see the preparation details in the appetizers. Prosciutto wrapped peaches served with figs filled with goat cheese are a seasonal favorite. The bruschetta with morel mushrooms is referred to as
“decompressed carbonara” because it is meaty and rich, without the pasta.
The menus at both Tryst and 32 East change with the season as the chefs both like to take advantage of available produce, but whatever you have at either restaurant, prepare to be impressed.
By Marcia Frost